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Marion County’s Rail to River
Submitted by Kate Greene
One of my favorite things about Fairmont is that we’re an intimate community. When we’re zipping around in cars, it doesn’t always feel that way; but if you look around and think about the city from a bird’s eye view, nothing is too far away. If we could just get our heads around making the walkways safe and the connections smoother, we could get just about anywhere we need to go by walking and biking. Think of the people we’d see and the exercise that we’d get! We’d save money. Who needs the gym when you’re biking so much? Why pay for gas when you can just walk? It’s not just Fairmont that’s designed this way – all of Marion County’s small towns are charming and close-knit, walkable and just waiting to be connected.
Walkable communities are all the rage right now, and towns all across America are redesigning their neighborhoods to create what we already have! Really, we have even more than most, because not only are our towns walkable, but they’re also positioned to tap into a giant 1,400 mile trail system that will connect four states and 48 counties.
When a group of trail advocates came together years ago, they were aware of a seemingly impossible gap in the regional trail system – less than 50 miles of gaps needed to complete a nearly 180-mile, continuous rail-trail from Parkersburg to the Greater Allegheny Passage, which has existing trail connections to Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. Of that 50 miles, only 4.8 miles are located in Marion County. That’s less than 5 miles standing between Marion County and an economic driver that could improve quality of life for residents and bring visitors from all across the region. Today, closing that gap is within our reach, as our team builds new partnerships and explores new ways to celebrate the trails and waterways that make our home unique.
Efforts are under way to improve walking and biking transportation options around Fairmont, connect two major trail corridors (the West Fork River Trail and the Mon River Trail) and to increase the recreational use of our rivers. Right now, the Friends of Marion County Trails and Waterways is working with the City of Fairmont to discuss viable cross-town links, explore grant funding opportunities and negotiate simple interim changes that can be made to accommodate pedestrian and bike traffic. This grassroots group is also working to support Marion County Parks and Recreation in its ongoing efforts to improve and maintain existing trails and host river-related events and recreational opportunities. Conversations and relationships are developing with local property owners to explore possible shared connections across privately owned land along our rivers – a process that involves compromise and collaboration and is a huge step forward in our trail development process.
The trails and rivers of Marion County are a way forward. They make our communities more livable, improve our economy through tourism and civic improvement, preserve and restore our open spaces and provide opportunities for physical activity to improve fitness and mental health. A fully developed trail system and the revival of our riverfronts will impact more than just trails and waterways – the economic impact will inspire redevelopment and business growth throughout the county.
For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends of Marion County Trails and Waterways, contact Kate Greene at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some upcoming dates (all at the Marion County CVB, 1000 Cole Street, Fairmont):
Explore Local History at the Tea with a Twist Open House
Local history buffs can tour an architectural gem in Fairmont’s historic Southside neighborhood and hear about a “Forgotten Hero.”
The historic Fleming mansion, 300 First Street, is now the home of the GFWC Woman’s Club of Fairmont, dedicated to preserving the elegant home. This is a place worth seeing any time, but it is especially beautiful during the holiday season.
During the Feast of the Seven Fishes Festival on Saturday, Dec. 10, you can tour the mansion for a small $5 donation from 1 to 4 p.m. during Tea with a Twist Open House. The A Cappella quartet “Angelica” will perform a selection of holiday music from 2 to 3 p.m.
While there, visitors can also view an exhibit about a Fairmont “Forgotten Hero,” James Show Maddox.
“James Show Maddox died after 77 days adrift in the South Atlantic following a November 2, 1942, U-boat attack on his merchant vessel, the M. S. Zaandam. He survived with four others on a small raft until January 17, 1943, a week before the eventual rescue of the last three men who depended on Maddox’s leadership, creativity and courage. Their rescue after 83 days was one of the longest recorded in Navy history. Unfortunately, he was not always identified as a West Virginian. Little recognition of him in Fairmont existed prior to this project,” said local historian M. Raymond Alvarez, who became fascinated by Maddox’s story and has written a 50-page local history publication titled “Forgotten Hero.”
Top 5 Holiday Happenings
Submitted by Hanna Weaver
Downtown Holiday Charm- Marion County has one of the most beautiful courthouses in the state, and the Christmas tree set up in front of historic downtown Fairmont building just adds to the scene. Combined with the holiday decorations the City of Fairmont takes care to put up along Adams Street, downtown looks very festive. The view is even more beautiful with some snowflakes flying around, but we’ll try to not say the “S” word too much.
Celebration of Lights- Every year, Morris Park is transformed into a spectacular light display. The South Fairmont Rotary Club works for months to get this incredible event ready. This year there are more than 300 light displays over 1.3 miles! Pack your family in your car to see the lights from 5 to 9 p.m. any Friday, Saturday or Sunday beginning through Dec. 27. Tickets are $10 per car and proceeds benefit the United Way of Marion County.
MCPARC Ice Rink- A new addition to the holiday happens when Marion County Parks and Recreation bring Fairmont our own skating rink to enjoy in the winter months at Palatine Park. The ice rink opens on Dec. 10. Admission is free. For more information, visit http://www.mcparc.com/ice-rink.html.
Fairmont Christmas Parade - Sponsored by the Fairmont Lions Club, the Fairmont Christmas Parade will begin at 5 p.m. on Dec. 10. You won’t want to miss it. From local businesses to churches to the Mud Lick Mudders four-wheeler group, there are plenty of parade entries and floats full of holiday cheer. Santa Claus himself will finish out the parade atop a hook and ladder truck.
Feast of the Seven Fishes Festival- For one weekend in December, we are all Italian. Our community has a rich Italian heritage and that is celebrated during the two-day festival on Dec. 9 and 10. Plan to attend the Festival Cucina Cooking School on Friday night and learn how to prepare seven delicious recipes for your own holiday table. On Saturday, there is a street fair on Monroe Street where locals and visitors gather for fun, fellowship and food. Shop craft vendors, sip some wine, hear some great music and enjoy an all-around fun celebration. For more information, visit http://www.mainstreetfairmont.org/.
“The Hunt for a Tree”
A holiday short story that just might help you pick out your family’s Christmas tree
Submitted by Michael Pasqua
Hello there, my name is Conrad, and I want to tell you about my favorite holiday, Christmas! As a young boy, I remember the first year that I went with my father to hunt for the most perfect Christmas tree. My father has always been very particular about his tree, it has to be just right.
“It can’t be the normal Scotch Pine that everyone gets” he said. “Your mom would kill me if I came home with a White Pine, their needles are too long, and her ornaments would never hold up on their flimsy branches.” No, no, no…my dad had a tree in mind, and he and I were bound to find it. I recall asking my dad what kind of tree he was in search of as we hiked through the local Christmas tree farm with our bow saw in hand.
“Son, I love the look of a Blue Spruce. They have a light blue needle, but those needles are so sharp. I just know your little sister Daisy would get hurt and Mom will blame me all holiday long.” We couldn’t have that.
“No, Son, this year I am going with a Fir.” A Fir? Dad never bought a fir before. “Dad,” I said, “What’s a Fir?” “Son,” he said, “It is the softest needled Christmas tree ever created, but it’s sturdy enough to hold all of your mom’s ornaments.”
Just then, a salesman came over and directed us to the Douglas Fir section of the farm. Dad still kept thinking about those Blue Spruce trees and how beautiful they looked. I asked the salesman why there were some Blue Spruce trees mixed in with the Fir section.
He chuckled a bit and explained to me that those aren’t Blue Spruces. He said he could see how I was confused with their bluish tint. He led us over and had us touch the needles. I could have been dreaming, but I felt like I could smell an orange. “Yes, yes,” said the salesman, “This is a Fir, a Concolor Fir. You are not dreaming, the needles do have an orange smell to them.”
Needless to say, that tree was cut down before the salesman could even tell my dad the price. We found our perfect Christmas tree. Now it is many years later as I walk my own son through the local Christmas tree farm. I know what type of tree we will pick, the Concolor Fir.